About the project
Our central claim is that a detailed, wide-ranging comparative analysis of what constitutes a cultural history of capitalism is indispensable for a functional grasp of recent Croatian cultural and political history, as well as of the current positioning of Croatia in Europe and the world. We therefore define our principal objective to be the production of knowledge structural to a comparative cultural history of capitalism.
We start from the observation that the dominant scholarly discourses in Croatia have so far not sufficiently acknowledged the impact and the cultural complexity of the economic sphere, especially the seminal significance of historical experiences of Britain and America in that regard. Our methodological point of departure is therefore the assertion that the economic sphere cannot be properly understood in isolation, but only in reference to the entirety of culture. We intend to examine and explore the complexity of this totality as refracted through cultural histories of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as a horizon truly necessary for understanding Croatian cultural history. Our intent is to investigate complex interrelations of the sophisticated Victorian variant of capitalism and its American mutations, both in the nineteenth- and in the twentieth-centuries. This applies primarily to the Cold-War America, when capitalism contrasted to socialism becomes a totalizing formula to regulate various economic and political structures, but also the sphere of culture where public versus private is defined. Thus caught in contrast to and against socialism, capitalism is definitive to life in communities in socialism as well, and therefore in the former Yugoslavia; this then sediments into a difficult genealogy which burdens capitalism when, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it enters formerly socialist countries, now as a platform for understanding and regulating postsocialism. Our approach is anchored in the assumption that research based only in economy or political theory fails to shed light on the logic of capitalism in this context. This then defines our methodology: we maintain that a truly functional analysis of the impact of capitalism demands a confluence of literary history, history of film, psychoanalysis, philosophy, cultural theory and, especially, of the knowledge specific to English and American Studies.
The strength of our research team lies in our commitment to bringing together scholars of different generations, and encouraging a truly dynamic and systemic exchange between doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, assistant and associate professors, and full professors who are also chairs of sections. (We have one doctoral student, two postdoctoral researchers, three assistant professors, one associate professor and three full professors in our Zagreb team, among them chairs of the English Literature and American Studies sections.) We plan to secure this exchange through a system of monthly and quarterly workshops where we will present and discuss the evolution of our research. Monthly workshops will target state-of-the-art of the research from within the project, and will include only team members. Quarterly workshops will host one to three experts outside the team, domestic and/or international, to secure an ongoing plurality of perspectives, with an additional benefit of a control mechanism. Further, in year four we plan to organize a two-day symposium, in order to amass and disseminate the results. It is to be followed by the publication of a volume. Our great asset is our unique position both staunchly in the fields of English and American Studies, and in Croatian sphere and the research of its cultural and political history. We argue that it is only from such a consistent bifocal position that a relevant insight can be gained into mutations of the cultural history of capitalism.